Last Night

I’m safe here. Mist seeps through a missing pane, one of his ex-girlfriend’s took it out with a right straight. Hard to imagine, I’m a lefty. I don’t want to face the night. I don’t want to walk to my car. From here, I can see it all. The letters, the addresses, the cracks in the street, the empty sidewalk of an unsuspecting town. I don’t need to be out there, they don’t need me, either. My mouth slumps.

I tell people I grew a beard out of laziness. “Didn’t feel like paying $6 for a razor.” Not quite right. I let it scrawl my face to hide the sadness of my lips. Full, pink, they receive remarks. They’re rarely perked. Twangy hairs dangle over their cracks, slip into my mouth, and with my teeth I pull. A condemned house. Overgrown. Useless.

“You have sad eyes all of a sudden, don’t be sad!” She said. There’s no hiding. What I had thought in that moment was beautiful and painful. It bares no recall – a truth whose power lives and dies in me. I stroke the hair on my chin, my eyes begin to droop.

His door locks like some found antique machine forced to life–of course it still works. I wait with the draft, with the mist.

We exit his building; his car is in front, mine a block away. We shake hands, bump shoulders, and I take flight against little wet pincers. He says something. I turn back, laugh and smile. He disappears inside his car and it’s far too late for pedestrians. I can remove my thumb from my mouth now. It’s mostly healed.

Two weeks ago I stopped a grocery store panic attack by chomping on my thumb until it bled. I wrapped it like sliced deli meat, and watched with pursed lips as my stain stuck the napkin to my finger. Too many people, too many. Shopping, doing. Being. No, not me. I can’t. I won’t. Bread, coffee, oatmeal, bananas, yogurt. I ran my fingers, one bandaged, over the paper. Focused on its crinkles. It soothed me enough to weave up and down aisles. To become.

On the corner, I wait for a sports car to droll past before crossing. There’s flecks of black in the blue line, only took 6 months. A block and a half away, a block away, half a block away, a bus charges towards its garage. The mist kneads the headlights like dough, blurs and bends them to form an electric halo. Just as I find the curb, I imagine without effort tossing myself head-first into its grates. There’s a mess, my body parts scatter. It erupts the boulevard with lights and sound. In the next moment, I’m surrounded by sterility and stiff lips. Would my hands land palms-up? Is there anybody on the bus? In the next moment, I’m gone.

Beyond the lights and self-righteous silence of the boulevard, I slink down a side-street.

Be happy, dammit.

I move with the wind, a little game I’ve played by myself since childhood. How quiet can I be? I’ve snuck up on friends without trying. Overheard terrible conversations meant for none. I’d like to quietly slip into the fluffy shadows of these hedges, but don’t have permission. I live vicariously through my own shadow. It disappears and pokes out. Grows long and short; knows the rules. I live like a shadow. But I am not literal.

Be happy, dammit.

Between two rows of crane-dropped homes, whose owners pay no mind to the magic and privilege of flipped switches, a stream of light intrudes the road and wanders with mist. Is that my car? I forget my little game and jog towards the source: a dark, almost vanished metal brick in the filtered night. It is my car. I unlock it, turn the light knob while cursing myself out, and plug the key into the ignition with bated breath. It turns on; the fan-belt squeals for a moment. It stays on. I smile for a moment, and roll towards the sign to STOP.

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A Walk With Polo

Chicago is a beautiful city. Coming from Detroit’s malaise, Chicago seemed more like NYC to me than it probably otherwise would; streets are alive during the day with suits and slacks, t’s and tourists—and not one Parrothead in sight.

We took the drone up over Millennium Park once before being told we couldn’t do it again and headed to Buckingham Fountain to get a time lapse.

“Ay man. These yours? These Parliaments?”

Some dude came out of nowhere and started rooting through bags looking for a cigarette.

“Yeah, they’re Parliaments.” Mark said. He seemed like he was on drugs.

“Sweet! Hey man, I’ll trade you a hit of my joint for a Parliament.” He opened his palm to show an almost-entirely-smoked joint.

He was wearing a wrinkled black polo, black cotton shorts, and scuffed sneakers. He was short, thin, and had a slightly scratchy voice. His short faux-hawk made him look younger, but I’d still pin him somewhere in late 20s, early 30s.

We soon learned his name was Polo. Polo was a career porn star who wouldn’t seem familiar to many “unless you give some credit card information to Vivid Entertainment.”

Polo, while waiting for Mark to give him a cigarette, told us about his past 2 days. Nothing much out of the ordinary: a chick he was with was held at knife-point while idling at a red light and this obviously made Polo angry—so he made her blow him until he got to an ATM. He reminisced about picking up two girls at a bar, bringing them back to his aunt’s house (whose bedroom “conveniently” had a bed—isn’t that the whole point of the room’s name, Polo?), and paid her $140.00 so he could bang ’em in her room. He threw in a little ditty about getting kicked off a bus for having a $50.00 bill or something, I kind of stopped paying attention; dude could ramble.

He also ate dinner on the top floor of Trump Tower every night of the week. Pretty swank, Polo!

In an effort to prove his sexual prowess, Polo told us “trade secrets”.

“Yo, you want a girl to orgasm every time? Try this move out…it’s called “The Walk”. Polo demonstrated by motioning his index and middle fingers like, you guessed it, a walkin’ pair of legs. He was explicit with his instructions, too, “DON’T force it. Never force it! They don’t like that.”

“Hey, you want your dick to grow? Try this. When you’re jerking off, wrap some sewing string around the head of your dick—it’s a muscle, bro! You gotta work it like you do every other muscle. So then just jerk off and tug on the string a little bit. Bro, I grew 6 inches in 7 months.”

Polo, with all his worldly advice and expertise (I’m wrapped tight as I type this), was kind of hostile, angry. He was mad—not as us, just at the whole world. Maybe getting paid to fuck wasn’t all Polo thought it would be. Maybe he was just a broke Chicagoan playing out a fantasy to whoever was willing to tolerate it. Maybe Polo really was a complaining porn star with the world on a string—or at least his dick.

Ronald, Mark, and Polo left to waste time with whatever was left of the joint, Jimmy and I waited with the equipment.

About 20 feet in front of us, we could see Polo aiming his water bottle at a pigeon.

“Precision.” He said before missing his mark, giving chase to the bird with his arms outstretched. This lasted about 15 seconds before a group of Segway tourist-riders reached the fountain.

“HEY GUYS! LOOK! SEG-GAYS!” He said while running after birds and tossed water bottles. Dude was definitely on drugs.

***

The next day, we caught up with Polo one more time before leaving Chicago, meeting him in front of Buckingham Fountain to buy from a friend of his. Polo was wearing the same exact outfit as yesterday; it was like he was living in some kind of drug-infused, lubricated Groundhog’s Day loop.

Dude ended up coming through for us and made the drive to Denver more relaxed. Somewhere in California right now, the good people over at Vivid Entertainment are singing Polo’s praises:

What thrusts!

I’d give anything to go for a walk with Polo!

This is gold, Polo! GOLD!

After we left him, I like to believe Polo walked into Trump Tower and high-fived security. He took the elevator to the top floor and enjoyed the complexities of a rich Cabernet between bites of filet Mignon. Afterwards, he had sex with the wait staff, all of them—and didn’t have to pay anybody to use their bedroom.

I’m like Fox Mulder. I want to believe.